Foodie guide to Derry – and competiton report

There was some delightful coffees, cruffins, cuisines, craft beer and other delicacies to be had in Derry – but it wasn’t easy to find a guide so we hope this helps fellow visitors looking for the best brunch, flat white, rocky road, roast dinner, local-brews or whatever it may be.

We were there for the 10th City of Derry International Choir Festival competing in the International competition.

We arrived on the Thursday night, sadly just missing the big Derry Girls singalong in the Guildhall Square! (I can highly recommend LoganAir – it banishes all thoughts of RyanAir/EasyJet, although it’d be great if the taxi ordering from Derry Airport was clearer! In short, there is no taxi queue/line – you have to order!).

Once the weekend was underway we realised timings would preclude dining out in the evenings (performances each night – Fri, Sat, Sun) so we wanted to make full use of our one free evening., The restaurant we found didn’t disappoint.

First, I really wanted to find somewhere serving Beamish – which I always prefer to Guiness – which we found after only a short walk, at the Anchor Inn. We both indulged in one – Jess loved it – and we were also celebrating an important development in our house buying journey this day, so raised a glass to that!

Then onto the recommended (can’t remember who by) Shipquay. Such a friendly welcome and helpful guide to the drinks menu. This place was really fabulous – high end food at only medium-high prices (at least compared to London). Jess had the Lemon Peppered Donegal Salmon and I had the Donegal Monkfish – both superb, with so many touches, including flavoursome emulsions (which seem to be quite the rage here). Washed down with some great wine, the specifics of which I forget now, some days later!

We went on to meet friends at the Taproom which serves beer from its own brewery – Walled Garden and had a great vibe with chilled live music. I’m glad we went because on subsequent nights it was absolutely horrible – loud, crowded nightclub vibe. But on Thursday – just what we were after and I really enjoyed the red ale I had (can’t find this one named on their site).

The following morning and for the rest of the trip we almost lived at Nine Hostages which did superb coffees, cakes and brunches (I tried at least three of the latter and a couple of cakes). On both Saturday and Monday mornings they accommodated 15 of us in their lovely upstairs room.

One of the nicest hangouts was the hotel we were staying in – City Hotel. When the rest of the city’s pubs were rammed or noisy or both, the bar at the hotel was very chilled and served pretty much all the same drinks. (The argument against it in Englahd would be for a beer drinker like me, you’d need to be at a proper pub to get the cask ales or interesting beers)

The City Hotel also served really good meals – I had two there and I can’t remember exactly what I had but that I was impressed and it seemed ok value for money at a hotel. (The breakfast is a little basic but convenient. I ate here twice because I’d pre-ordered but another time I’d skip it and go to Nine Hostages every day)

Another great place for food was Trinity where every meal had a novelty presentation.

On Sunday we crossed the peace bridge to waterside and had a Sunday Roast at the Sooty Olive. I can’t say for sure there was nothing city side like this but most of the pubs looked like they did fairly standard pub grub. Anyway this felt well worth the walk and good to see another part of the city.